Bulgarian and Romanian archaeologists have discovered a number of exciting objects off the Black Sea coast as a result of an underwater archaeology project.
The remains of two wooden ships have been found in the shelf of Bulgaria’s Northern Black Sea coast, Preslav Peev, an underwater archaeologist from the Varna-based Fridtjof Nansen Institute of Oceanology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, has announced, as cited by Radio Varna.
Bulgarian and Romanian archaeologists have staged a total of six underwater expeditions for exploring the western section of the Black Sea, off the coast of the historic and geographic region of Dobrudzha, Peev reveals.
The two wooden ships have been found in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea shelf between the town of Shabla, which is Bulgaria’s easternmost point, and the Cape of Kaliakra, which is itself a rich archaeological site with stunning scenery, some 20 km to the south. However, no in-depth information about the newly discovered remains of the wooden ships such as their dating or origin has been provided.
To the north, in the Romanian section of the Black Sea shelf, the Bulgarian and Romanian underwater archaeologists have stumbled upon two sunken Soviet submarines, and a sunken German military vessel from World War II as well as several commercial ships that sank in the past 20-30 years. These sunken vessels have been discovered at a depth of 20-30 meters.
According to Peev, the new underwater archaeology finds can be easily accessed by scuba divers. He notes that the Bulgarian shelf may be more accessible since depths of 20 m can be found just two miles off the coast, that is, closer to the coast than they are in the Romanian section of the Black Sea shelf.
Another expert from Bulgaria’s Institute of Oceanology, its director, Prof. Atanas Palazov, recently spoke of the great potential that underwater archaeology harbors for promoting cultural tourism along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
All of the Bulgarian-Romanian underwater archaeological finds discovered in the Black Sea during the six recent expeditions have been described in a brochure published in Bulgarian, Romanian, and English, which also outlines local routes for adventure and underwater tourism as well as exciting archaeological sites situated along the coast of the Dobrudzha region.
Peev explains that these sites include the Museum of History and Archaeology in the Romanian port city of Constanta which boasts a rich collection of Roman finds, the Ancient Greek colony Histria located further to the north, the village of Corbu, also to the north of Constanta, which has a fully preserved Ancient Roman water conduit emptying out into stone fountain known among the locals as the “Bulgarian spring” “meaning that it was originally built by Bulgarians”.
The sites along Bulgaria’s Northern Black Sea coast include the Archaeological Preserve near the town of Durankulak; the lighthouse at the town of Shabla, which is the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Bulgaria, towering at 32 m, together with the Ancient Thracian settlement of Karon Limen, also known as Portus Caria; the town of Kamen Bryag (Stony Beach) with the ancient archaeological preserve Yailata; the Cape of Kaliakra; and the Museum of History in the town of Kavarna (also see museum site here and museum Facebook page here).
“A polymetallic ingot in the form of a stretched ox skin is a unique find that can be seen in the Kavarna Museum of History. Most of it consists of an alloy of gold, silver and other metals,” Peev points out, stressing that the ingot he describes is the only one of its kind in the entire world.
The ingot was found in the 1970s in an inlet west of Cape Kalikra; it is dated back to the late Bronze Age, about 3200 – 3500 years ago, weighing about one talent (an ancient unit of mass amounting to about 26 kg in its Greek version).
It is suggested that the ingot might have been a pre-monetary form of a currency. Ingots that were round or had the shape of a spread out ox skin have been found in Cyprus, Crete, Egypt, and the Balkan Peninsula.
The Durankulak Archaeological Preserve is located near the Black Sea coast and Bulgaria’s land border with Romania; it features several archaeological sites from different ages, the most ancient one dating back to the early Neolithic Era, and the most recent one – to the First Bulgarian Empire in the 10th century. The Durankulak Archaeological Preserve, which has been excavated since the 1970s, contains evidence about the world’s earliest human proto-civilization as well as, according to some scholars, the so called Black Sea Deluge that might have been the foundation of the story of the Biblical Deluge and Noah’s Arc.
The Yailata Archaeological Preserve is located near the town of Kamen Bryag (Stony Beach), 18 km away from the town of Kavarna, on a terrace overlooking the Black Sea. Not unlike the Durankulak Archaeological Preserve, Yailata, which has been excavated since 1980, contains several stunning archaeological sites. Those include a cave “town” with 101 dwellings dating back to 5th millennium BC, a medieval cave monastery, and a 5th century early Byzantine fortress, whose restoration was unveiled in early 2015 amid criticism about the authenticity of its execution.
Karon Limen, also known as Portus Caria is an Ancient Thracian settlement founded in the 6th-5th century BC and known by the Greek name of Karon Limen (Carian Bay) that grew into a Black Sea port in Roman times, Portus Caria. The remains of a 4th century fortress are preserved; the town prospered in the early years of the Byzantine Empire.
Histria or Istros is an Ancient Greek colony on Romania’s Black Sea coast; it was established by Milesian colonists for trade with the local Thracian tribe, the Getae, in the 7th century BC. After the 1st century AD it was part of the Roman Empire and then of the Byzantine Empire, until it was destroyed by barbaric invasions in the 7th century AD.
The Shabla Lighthouse, towering at 32 m, is the oldest and tallest lighthouse along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. It was built in its present form in 1856, 22 years before Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman Turkey, to replace an older lighthouse built some time between 1756 and 1786.